by Deb Cook Lewis
The Feb. 22nd in-person meeting of ACB’s Board of Directors gave those in attendance – and those listening to ACB Radio – an exciting “first”: the meeting was streamed live over the radio for the first time ever. I think this is profoundly important for our membership, and an indicator of the openness of ACB’s leadership to share what they are doing with all of us. I hope that all future board meetings will be streamed in the spirit of open communication and information. There were 32 guests present and 57 listening on ACB Radio during the in-person meeting.
Both meetings began with the usual introductions and approval of minutes. No minutes were approved during the January call because members felt they had not been given adequate time to review them prior to the meeting. The October 18-19 (fall), November 11 and 18 (budget) and January 23 (telephonic) minutes were all approved with corrections at the February meeting.
A usual feature of all board meetings is the Mission Moment, where president Dan Spoone and executive director Eric Bridges highlight an activity that exemplifies the work of ACB staff in collaboration with members. January’s Mission Moment featured Nancy Becker’s work with the scholarship committee to streamline the application and review process. All applications will be completed online, and will now also be reviewed online. All applicants will now be interviewed one time even if they qualify for more than one scholarship category. ACB has entered into an agreement with the American Foundation for the Blind to administer the scholarships formerly given by that organization. Nancy has worked with the committee to incorporate most of these into our existing categories, which will increase the value of each scholarship. Finally, as part of this refinement, the scholarship committee presented a revised attendance policy for scholarship winners, raising the attendance expectations of winners at the ACB conference and convention. This was adopted at the in-person board meeting.
February’s Mission Moment highlighted the work of Cindy Van Winkle and her volunteer POSSE, who have contacted more than 1,200 lapsed ACB members. POSSE stands for “Providing Outreach through Support, Sharing and Engagement.” Cindy’s other activities in membership services were highlighted throughout the weekend, with more activities to come.
In his president’s report, Dan Spoone stated that Kim Charlson and Mitch Pomerantz will represent ACB at the World Blind Union meetings to be held in Madrid during June. Dan will also attend, since this is Mitch’s final meeting on the WBU. Dan reported that all nine ACB steering committees are now up and running with strong leadership from staff and key members. Leslie Spoone asked that all members contribute to the summer auction. Dan described the process that has been conducted to develop and adopt the Code of Conduct policy. After additional discussion, the board unanimously adopted the policy. Dan thanked the ad hoc committee and ACB members who made valuable contributions to the process. The new policy will become part of registration for the annual conference and convention. Second vice president Ray Campbell presented a membership charter for the American Council of the Blind Next Generation affiliate, which was approved. A name change was also approved for Connecticut to become the American Council of the Blind of Connecticut.
In his executive director’s report, Eric Bridges introduced Tony Stephens as ACB’s new director of development. Tony is no stranger to ACB, having been the director of advocacy and governmental affairs. Eric and Dan praised the work of Tom Tobin in his role as development consultant, noting that his contributions have resulted in the direct mail campaign, the Giving Societies, the Angel Memorial and so much more. Tom received a standing ovation. He will continue to work alongside Tony for the next few months during the transition. Most of the other staff reports were brief and more fully covered during the presidents’ meeting on Sunday or during the legislative seminar on Monday.
Before the break, we were treated to the walk song for 2020 “Walking Up a Storm.” Let’s just say that I’m sure Patsy Cline would be proud!
In other reports, Jeff Bishop indicated that ACB Radio is about to release an all-new version of ACB Link, and lots of new programming is coming to ACB Radio. Deb Cook Lewis said that the Board of Publications is working to revitalize and repurpose some of ACB’s email lists. All members will be subscribed to announce, and the focus of other lists will be strengthened. Janet Dickelman indicated that the Hyatt Hotel in Jacksonville, Fla. is interested to be the site for the 2023 convention, but no decisions have been made yet.
The board meeting was a fabulous kickoff to a great weekend of fun, fellowship and learning together.